Message from the dean

Dear friends:

The coronavirus has altered our lives in significant ways and transformed how our School of Education operates. Although challenges are ongoing, the success of COVID-19 vaccines is raising expectations that the next semester will look more like fall 2019 than fall 2020.

That’s wonderful news, because our Badger community flourishes when it can come together, in person. Collectively, we create a vibrant campus culture through classroom learning and discussions, crucial research, student organizations, performances in the arts, Badger sporting events, evenings at the Terrace, and so much more.

Dean Diana Hess
Dean Diana Hess

I’m so excited and hopeful for what is ahead.

Of course, the School of Education hasn’t merely gotten by since the coronavirus significantly altered our operations in March 2020 — we’ve worked hard to thrive and innovate.

Our School continues to strengthen its commitment to racial justice, with Associate Dean LaVar Charleston’s Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (OEDI) adding three talented team members in 2021. Ida Balderrama-Trudell is OEDI’s inaugural director of student engagement, Sam Becker is the new director of teaching and learning innovation, and Justin Brown is the EDI program associate.

Meanwhile, our School was again rated among the very best in the nation — ranking No. 4 in U.S. News and World Report’s latest Best Graduate Schools rankings. It’s the eighth straight year we’ve been rated among the top five.

Finally, Impact 2030 — the ambitious, $40 million, donor-funded initiative that’s designed to significantly strengthen our School leading up to its centennial in 2030 — is gaining momentum following its launch in August 2020. Some of our most recent efforts include: developing ways to dramatically increase the number of students who are participating in high-quality, paid internships; advancing a visionary plan for expanding global education projects, activities, and study abroad opportunities tied to one’s major; and establishing a new Impact Scholars Program that will bolster supports and seek to increase the diversity of students across our arts, health, and education programs.

The cover story in this edition of Learning Connections centers on how we can take some of the lessons we’ve learned during this past year-plus — and emerge stronger and better than ever. (Read about my thoughts on this here.)

I’m eager to see what this new normal brings about. No matter what the future holds, with support from so many of our alumni and friends just like you, we’ll continue moving forward with a sense of optimism and a belief in big ideas.

— Diana Hess